Are you looking to visit a fairytale-esque town in Germany? Well, I’ve found it, it’s Monschau. Tucked away in the hills of the Eifel region of Germany, near the Belgium border, lies the prettiest of towns. Time has stood still in Monschau. It has remained virtually untouched over the past several centuries. Just as if it was torn from the pages of a fairy tale book.
So how might one spend a perfect day in Monschau? Come and follow along…
How to get here...
History tells us that until 1918, Monschau was actually known as Montjoie (in French), as it used to be part of Belgium. Today, it sits just 2 km from the Belgian border, making it an easy day trip from either destination.
It’s 45 minutes from Aachen, Germany and an hour from Maastricht, Netherlands or an hour from Liege in Belgium.
Arriving by car, you will need to park just outside the town. But don’t worry, it’s only a short walk until you come across a small footbridge brimming with flowers presenting you wonderful views of the beginning of the town.
What to see...
1. The Red House
One of the first historic buildings you will notice is Red House (or Rotes Haus). Dating back to 1756, it was the former home of the Scheibler family, who were prominent cloth merchants. Today, it’s a small private museum offering a guided tour. They tell the story of how 4,000 to 6,000 spinners and weavers produced woolen materials which were exported to countries as far away as Turkey and Russia.
2. The Rur River
The Rur River flows right through the town of Monschau. It starts in the north from the Eifel mountains and meanders through many other towns. You will see local fisherman out getting their catch of the day. Trout and salmon are said to be found here.
There will be several footbridges that you can take in the views of the Rur River. It is just so pretty. As it catches the light and the sound of the soft rustling of the water as you stroll through the town.
3. The Panoramic Road
Why not take the panoramic road that starts straight after you cross the Rur River at the Market Square. It leads you up the hill to a terrace where you can enjoy panorama views of Monschau.
From here you can actually see how small Monschau is. How its nestled between the hills with the Rur River winding its way through the town. There are over 300 buildings that are listed as historic monuments in this town. Thankfully, because Monschau was left intact after WWII.
4. The Altstadt
Monschau’s Altstadt (or Old Town) is definitely a dreamy place for a stroll. With its winding cobblestoned streets and its half-timbered buildings. You will feel as though you have stepped back in time. The row upon row picture-book buildings are awe-inspiring. With no two alike, take your time to gaze upon each one.
Visit the quaint shops, like the all-year Christmas store, a traditional coffee roasting house, and a glass-blowing workshop, just to name a few.
5. The Monschau Castle
The 13th century Burg Monschau (or castle) overlooks the town. It features a heavily fortified ring wall and walled walkways. Unfortunately, it fell to ruins and was abandoned in the early 1800s. Since then been renovated and operates as a youth hostel. Though tours of the castle are not offered, you can enjoy a stunning view of town from its courtyard. It’s a steep walk up to the castle, but well worth it for the views.
6. The Monschau Mustard Mill
The Mustard Mill (or Senfmühle) dates back to 1882, and is one of the last historic mills in Germany. It continues to produce the traditional mustard recipe, along with 19 other varieties. To visit the historic mill, it’s a 15-minute walk up the hill. Or you can visit the small shop in the Altstadt where you can sample and buy their 19 unique flavours of garlic, horseradish, honey, curry, tomato, and many more. Each mustard is sold in the traditional pottery jar just as they did centuries ago.
7. The Market Square
Head to the market square after you have enjoyed exploring all of what this small town has to offer. It’s time to relax. The surrounding cafes and restaurants fill out the square with their tables and chairs. It’s buzzing with people come lunch time when the entire town stops to eat.
You will be amazing by the vast number of cafes and restaurants for such a small town. All of them look equally charming and offer traditional German cuisine. You can’t go wrong.
We also enjoyed the traditional kaffee kuchen (or coffee and cake), which can be enjoyed mid-morning and mid-afternoon throughout Germany. In Monschau they specialize in apfel kuchen or apfel strudel (apple cake and apple strudel). We choose to do this at the Lütticher Hof, as it has a lovely terrace at the back which overlooks the rustling Rur River.
As a holidaymaker…
Undeniably, our visit to Monschau did not disappoint. Considered to be the most beautiful town in this region, Monschau makes you feel like you have stepped back in time. It’s definitely one of the most picturesque European towns.
Come Christmas this town is famous for its traditional Christmas market. I can only imagine how magical it must be.